With the Montreal Impact dropping another three points at home last weekend against New York City FC, the Impact will look to rebound this weekend against the Philadelphia Union. There is no doubt the Impact will benefit from the return of Ignacio Piatti, however will be without central defenders Laurent Ciman and Wandrille Lefevre. The last time these two teams met back in May the match ended in a draw, with Didier Drogba scoring for Montreal and Sapong scoring for Philadelphia.
Mount Royal Soccer has turned towards our friends at the Brotherly Game in order to get some perspective on the Union's season up to this point:
1) With Philadelphia within striking distance of top spot in the Eastern Conference, can the Union keep up their solid play? And can this translate into some playoff success?I don't see why they couldn't continue this great run of form. This team is deep in talent, so any injuries or suspensions don't derail the entire team (which was the case for most Union teams of old).
The big worry is that if the Union n make the playoffs, they won't have the experience to progress. The only time the Union have played in the post-season was 2011 when the Houston Dynamo bounced them in the first round. This is a much different team though. There are veterans of MLS playoff series - guys like Chris Pontius, Brian Carroll, and CJ Sapong who have all been in the post-season and know what it takes to win. There are also guys like Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, and Tranquillo Barnetta who have had success internationally. The coaching staff is also much more prepared - Jim Curtin went through many playoff runs as a player with the Chicago Fire - and Chivas USA too.
2) Montreal and Philadelphia met back in May in a match that ended in a 1-1 draw. How do the Union approach road matches in MLS in contrast to how the team prepares at home?
Travel in MLS is so difficult - you have to account for differences in climate, time zones, altitude, and you have to account for travel times as well. Now Montreal and Philadelphia aren't terribly different or far away, however there's still a two hour flight and hotel stays whenever our teams meet.
The Union tend to travel the day before a match and train in the city, however that isn't always the case, depending on schedule congestion and distance. For instance earlier this year, when the Union played out in Seattle they left on Thursday, trained on Thursday and Friday in Seattle, and played the Sounders on Saturday.
It was different the last time the Union went to Montreal, as they had to host the LA Galaxy on the Wednesday before, so they trained on Friday before going to Montreal and playing on Saturday.
3) Who do the Montreal defenders have to watch out for this weekend?
The Union have had every regular starter score except for left back Fabinho and goalkeeper Andre Blake. The Union have scored 34 goals in the season - tied with FC Dallas and New York City FC for most in the league, and they've done it without a goal scorer in the top ten. Chris Pontius is the club's leading goal scorer with seven goals. CJ Sapong and Roland Alberg each have six, and the next closest goal scorers have two goals. This is an offensive-minded team where literally anyone can score.
Andre Blake; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry; Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta; Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg, Sebastien Le Toux; CJ Sapong